The Red Cross continues to provide families with food, water, blankets, shelter and emotional support, nearly a month after the powerful 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck central Italy's Abruzzo province. Today, there are more than 4,500 people still living in five Red Cross tent camps.
A child is comforted by a Red Cross rescuer in a refugee camp setup just outside the Abruzzo capital L'Aquila, epicenter of the earthquake that struck on April 6, 2019. AFP / Getty Images / Filippo Monteforte
Some 750 Red Cross volunteers have been working in shifts since the disaster struck and an additional 2,500 are available to be deployed in the coming months.
"Volunteers demonstrated real solidarity. We saw people of all ages and professions taking leave from jobs to come to Abruzzo and help," says Tommaso Della Longa, a Red Cross spokesperson. "What was yet more amazing – they all knew what to do in this type of situation - another vital element of preparedness."
Rain and persistent cold is making life difficult in the camps set up around Abruzzo. Many people are moving towards the Adriatic coast, finding temporary accommodation in hotels, but thousands refuse to leave their family and friends.
With their possessions gone and livelihoods destroyed, people are getting assistance from the Red Cross and various national agencies. Following the early recovery operation, the Red Cross has developed a two-year plan of action that will help people return to normality and rebuild pre-existing social structures.
The plan includes strengthening capacities of the local community, civil society and the Red Cross branches. It envisages emergency and transitional shelter, food and non-food items, psychosocial support, restoring schooling, social and professional training and fostering support between families.
The Red Cross will take an auxiliary role in blood donation and will participate in the development of community centers and social services. While reconstruction is not among the Red Cross' responsibilities as a disaster response organization, it will advocate for better solutions and inclusion of people in this process with the aim that those affected will be involved in further planning.
"It will take many months to recover from this. We are determined to continue our support work as long as it is needed," Della Longa added.
You can help the victims of countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster, please do so at the time of your donation by mailing your donation with the designation to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243 , Washington, D.C. 20013 or to your local American Red Cross chapter. Donations to the International Response Fund can be made by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish) or online at www.redcross.org.